I watched this one on TV, so I'm sure I missed a lot, but from what I could tell the officials played a MAJOR role in the outcome of this game.
We trailed at halftime in large part because Old Piss got to the free throw line in the 1st half and we didn't. Joe Dean may be the worst announcer in basketball. He's not as annoying as Duke Vitale, but he's a complete idiot. He explained the free throw discrepency in the first half as "Ole Miss being aggressive in attacking the basket." Yes, that's one reason why one team may get to the line more than the other, but considering we only shot 5 3s in the first half, it's not like we were settling for jump shots against the zone. We were getting the ball inside with the high-low game, and our bigs were getting hacked, but it wasn't being called. Meanwhile our guards were called for tick-tack handchecks and reach-ins at the other end.
Our transition defense was uncharacteristically bad in the 1st half, and the rebels were able to get some easy baskets against us.
On the rare occasion a bad call actually went our way, Joe Dean was quick to point it out. We were granted a timeout during a loose ball in the 2nd half, but he said nothing of the fact that the exact same thing went Old Piss's way earlier in the game. Also, during one replay in the 1st half, Releford was clearly fouled, lost the ball out of bounds, and although the refs gave us the ball, Dean noted, "it looked like Releford was the last to touch it..." with no mention of the fact that the Old Piss defender hacked the hell out of him with no call.
Old Piss did a good job of beating our traps in the first half. We made some great defensive adjustments in the 2nd half and built an 11 point lead. I was hoping we would call a timeout before that 11 point lead completely vanished, but we didn't.
Warren had a great game for Old Piss, and he is hard to defend when he is on. Still, Charvez Davis did a great job against him in Tuscaloosa, but was hardly ever matched up with him tonight. Our point guards had a difficult time with him, and we didn't try Senario on him till the very end of the game.
Chris Hines played a great game. Davis made a couple of 3s, but I wish he could have made one more down the stretch. We were still in position to win on a fast break down 1 late in the game, but Releford again was fouled with no call, and Doug Shows complicated matters by calling a technical foul on Coach Grant after we picked up a frustration foul on the rebound. In fairness, both coaches had been warned earlier in the game, but unless a coach makes a complete ass out of himself, you don't call a technical at that point of the game. ESPECIALLY when said coach has a legitimate gripe, as Coach Grant most certainly did. Still, the team kept fighting, and had the ball down 3 with 17 seconds left. Once again, Releford was fouled with no call, leading to a turnover and ending any chance we had at winning the game. I truly believe we would be 12-2 at worst, possibly 13-1 right now were it not for the incompetence of SEC officials.
Furthermore, I don't like to criticize the officials, I really don't. It's a tough job, and I do it the best I can at the high school level. I respect that it's a fast game and you aren't going to get them all right. The next official to call a perfect basketball game will be the first. But in a game of that magnitude, to call a technical foul in that situation, is ridiculous. In fairness, I don't know what Coach Grant said, but assuming it wasn't something absurd he would have to be on the court near the halfcourt line for me to T somebody up in that situation.
If anybody went, I would be interested to hear how the crowd was. The place looked nearly half empty on TV, which is pathetic for a game between a team fighting for a SEC championship and a home team fighting for a first round SEC tournament bye.
Up next, we go to Gainesville for a 6pm tipoff Tuesday night on ESPNU against Florida. The Gators are coming off of a loss to Kentucky, so we are still tied for the SEC lead. We will be significant underdogs, but I believe this may be a must win game for our at large NCAA tournament hopes. The O'Connell center is the only SEC arena that I have yet to see a game, and I am seriously considering making the long road trip.